Growing Up Sexually



IndexPacificsPolynesia French PolynesiaCook IslandsAitutaki


Featured: Pukapukans, Ra’Ivavae, French Polynesia [Marquesans, Cook Islands [Tahiti, Aitutaki, Mangaia], Samoa, Tonga Isl.]; Santa Cruz Isl., Santa Cruz Isl.




Beaglehole (1957:p188-9)[1] states:


“The sex education of the Aitutaki child is largely directed to two ends: one of these is to teach the child modesty, the other is to frown upon overt heterosexual activity in children of the middle years. Grandparents or parents often in their play with infants or very small children lightly kiss the child on the genitals- but this is thought of objectively as just part of the fun of playing with a baby. […] a boy appearing without pants in a mixed play group (not a swimming group) will be ridiculed about his black scrotum or warned to keep his genitals covered for fear of something biting his scrotum. The occasional child who play with his own genitals is mildly reprimanded by his parents, but without fuss or anxiety. Heterosexual experimentation by boys and girls of school age is generally disapproved by parents and teachers, and if persisted in would be punished. Yet children of this age are fully cognizant of the physiological facts about sex through study of animals and though their interest in older girls who are visited clandestinely in the house by boys. The general attitude of parents seems to be one of disapproval for precocious sex activity, whereas during and after adolescence nature is expected to take its own course. In general, adolescence is a period of low pressure and little difficulty as far as adjustment to the maturation of the body is concerned”.


Attitudes toward premarital sex are subject to “a somewhat conventional double standard”; supported by the church. If parents approve of the boy, they do not much object to their daughter’s experimentation, otherwise she may be beaten. A boy should have his way in experimenting, lest he becomes an “unfortunate woman-hunter in later middle-age”. Circumcision at age 14, the end of the middle years.













Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. VolumeI. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology, Berlin

Last revised: Sept 2004


[1] Beaglehole, E. (1957) Social Change in the South Pacific: Rarotonga and Aitutaku. London: Allen & Unwin